Opinion

EU goes mobile

You may well already be aware that the European Union's efforts to bring down the costs of using a mobile overseas (but within the EU) have led to price caps on what the network operators can charge. Well from 1 July another - lower - price cap has been implemented and there are more are to come.

The new cap means that from 1 July, no operator can charge more than 32p+VAT/minute to make a call or charge more than 10p+VAT/minute to receive a call.

The EU's action follows the failure by the network operators to voluntarily reduce their costs. Part of the problem, as the EU sees it, stems from the fact that users are prevented from using a cheaper operator when roaming because of contractual tie-ins.

The news for consumers is that things will get even better in the medium term as the European Commission has just adopted a report containing proposals on a long term solution to high call rates. The report says that whilst the EU can force price cuts, the market doesn't allow for competition. The report wants to allow consumers to be able to choose roaming services at prices close to domestic charges. In plain English, this means that from 1 July 2014, consumers will be able to sign up for (cheaper) roaming contracts that are separate from their domestic calling plan. 

Good news eh? Yes, if you're a consumer. No if you're a network operator.

This was first published in July 2011

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